A Whiskery Defeat

A few weeks ago, I came stumbling into the kitchen early in the morning, looked out the window at the tomato plants, and saw a furry ball wrapped around a tomato, munching happily, holding onto a vine with its tail. I have tended those tomatoes lovingly for months, watched them grow, and encouraged them to turn from green to red. And then, one furious morning, my prize red tomato was destroyed by this whiskered menace! I declared war.

He vanished for a time, but a week ago, I saw him sitting just outside the back door. When he saw me, he ran for the tomato window. I rustled among the tomatoes with a shovel to shake him up a bit, but it was too dark to see him. I found another tomato with only a mushy shell left. And I saw him scampering around just outside the living room window a few days ago.

But today, I lost a battle that might determine the war. As I stood in the kitchen, I saw the mouse in the tomato window, with just his head peeping up over the sill. He was staring at me.

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I jabbed at the window, and he jumped and backed down. I climbed up on the kitchen counter to see where he’d gone, and saw him just below the window sill, paws still on the pane, ducking beneath sight. He met my eyes again, and just kind of looked at me as if to say, “Hi!” I banged on the window again, and he scrammed.

My first reaction was automatic – go find the shovel and see if I could squish the little guy. And then something in my brain remembered those cute little eyes and whiskers, and I felt like a bully. I found myself referring to the mouse, no longer as a rodent, but as “Charleton Heston.” (I have no idea why my brain named him that, but whatever.) I hung my  head in shame – partly because I felt mean for scaring him off the windowsill, and partly because I knew I had just lost to a mouse. An adorable, curious, tomato-eating fiend of a mouse.

But if I’m going to be beaten by a mouse, at least it’s a mouse whose namesake once portrayed Moses. Charleton Heston, I salute you. ♦

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